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Appeals court refuses to open docket, files in abortion case

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  1. Court Access
A federal appeals court has rejected The Legal Intelligencer 's bid to access the sealed docket and files in a…

A federal appeals court has rejected The Legal Intelligencer ‘s bid to access the sealed docket and files in a precedent-setting abortion case, in which a woman claims she was wrongfully fired for ending her pregnancy.

The first public glimpse of Doe v. C.A.R.S. Protection Plus Inc. came in late May, when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia (3rd Cir.) published its opinion reversing a lower court’s dismissal of the case. The appeals court did side with the district judge on the secrecy issue, though, holding that the lower court did not abuse its discretion in sealing the entire docket and case file.

Attorneys for the newspaper followed up with motions to intervene and to have the docket and files unsealed. "It is facially unconstitutional for a court to seal a docket and thereby obliterate any public knowledge of an entire lawsuit’s existence," the motion said, according to The Legal Intelligencer.

Both motions were denied; the appeals court said the newspaper could take the issue up with the district judge.

The paper’s attorneys are reportedly weighing their next step.

The unidentified plaintiff in the case chose to have an abortion after discovering that her baby would be severely deformed. She was fired from her job days later, in what she claims was illegal discrimination.